How to save any dysfunctional municipality

Proof that our dysfunctional municipalities can be rescued by applying common sense emerged on Christmas Eve to shine a small ray of sunshine on an otherwise gloomy festive season.

This glimmer of hope for the new year was news that the AbaQulusi Local Municipality in Vryheid in Kwa-Zulu Natal had settled its Eskom debt of R60 million with a final tranche of R8 million.

The municipality is now debt free, having also settled an eye-watering R197 million debt built up by the previous administration.

Why this achievement was not trumpeted from the rooftops is a mystery because it is the best news for suffering ratepayers everywhere in a very long time.

But no matter, the R257 million it owed has been paid. And it only took two years. Other dysfunctional municipalities now can, and should, follow the same recipe

Of course, one municipal swallow doesn’t make a summer but it proves that bringing in an outsider administrator works. Every town and dorp in the country should now pray that there are enough administrators ro go round.

So how did the AbaQulusi Local Municipality manage this Herculean feat?

It was not rocket science. No high-flown business-school knowledge was needed. It meant not filling uncritical positions; using funds earmarked for equipment to pay debt; stopping buying new perk motor vehicles; reducing overtime by R1,5 million a year; and saving on staff travel to workshops by sending only one delegate.

In other words, it’s simple. And the same recipe should be applied to the few municipalities that are not dysfunctional.

Imagine how much money could be saved by the big ones.